Shifting Phases's Reviews > Every Minute Counts: Making Your Math Class Work

Every Minute Counts by David R. Johnson
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really liked it

Do you ever
- spend too much time going over homework, leaving too little to introduce a new concept?
- assign homework that is too difficult for the majority of the students?
- find yourself reteaching something the next day?
- find that the class period is never long enough?

David Johnson addreses these issues in 66 pages of concrete, timeless advice. Published in 1982, this book is absolutely not dated (except for the illustrations, which are hilarious anachronisms).

If you feel like you lecture too much and are trying to find ways to work more formative assessments into your day, there are probably some ideas in here that will help. Some of it is tried-and-true advice (Don't ask "known-answer" questions; there's no point in asking "does anyone have any questions"). But there are other ideas that are less-obvious booby-traps (avoid labelling the difficulty of a question as in "here's an easy one"; avoid asking for verbal group responses.

Johnson's approach to checking homework, taking roll, and in-class groupwork are also interesting. Homework: give them the answers and let everyone check their homework themselves. There's no point in asking students for answers, so unless you are asking them to explain/justify a procedure, you might as well use this time to walk around, see who did the homework, and take attendance. For in-class groupwork, Johnson emphasizes insisting that everyone take turns writing (rather than designating a note-taker) and warning students that you will select one person at random to explain the problem.

The tone is conversational but succinct. Johnson doesn't insist on a single correct way of doing things, but lays out compelling reasons for all of his choices. I didn't agree with everything, but I found lots of challenging food for thought and some ideas I hadn't considered (even after reading dozens of more recent books and articles). This is written from the perspective of a teacher who changed his teaching strategy from "chalk-and-talk" to something more engaging, and it's worth a look.
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Reading Progress

August 30, 2011 – Shelved
Started Reading
August 31, 2011 – Finished Reading

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